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May, 2012

Uncontrolled Operation of Methadone Clinic Puts Community Revitalization at Risk

By Cesar Palacio,
Toronto City Councillor Ward-17 Davenport

The Province of Ontario continues to fund a Methadone Clinic located at Dufferin and St. Clair despite the fact that it is operating in a manner that is both disruptive and harmful to the revitalization of our community.

Unfortunately, the clinic treats many more patients than it is equipped to handle. Although it is designed to treat a small number of patients, this clinic actually handles over 150 patients per day. The clinic’s small capacity has resulted in a large number of people loitering, aggressively panhandling and engaging in other forms of disruptive conduct in the community.
On May 24 th at a Community Safety Meeting with Police Chief Bill Blair, a common issue among many residents was safety concerns regarding the Methadone Clinic. At the meeting, Police Chief Blair said, “There is a place for methadone clinics. I’m not sure it’s in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.”
The situation has gotten completely out of control and has reached the point where the local McDonald’s has installed a safe needle disposal station in its washroom. This has shocked the many children, seniors, and families who regularly visit this establishment.

Unfortunately the Province does not understand the impact that this clinic is having on the surrounding community, as the constant police presence creates a sense that the area is struggling.

Although the zoning allows for this use and the clinic performs a valuable service, does that mean that this is an ideal location for the clinic? The answer is a definite NO! The St. Clair and Dufferin area has one of the highest levels of pedestrian traffic, a number of elementary schools, a church, daycares, and will be home to a soon to be created nearby Parkette.

Through local and city-wide initiatives, such as BIA events and the Exclusive Right-of-Way transit project, Davenport residents and the City of Toronto have invested millions of dollars to reclaim this area for the enjoyment of the community. The revitalization of this area has encouraged residents to rediscover the wonderful eateries and shopping establishments which have become the focal point of our community.

However, if the Province continues to fund this clinic without placing restrictions on its operations to address our community’s concerns, it will overturn the gains that we have made towards the betterment of our neighbourhood. We strongly feel that it is unfair to place this extra unwanted burden on our community.

I have set-up numerous meetings with the local BIA, Toronto Police Services, Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s and the Methadone Clinic to try and work out a compromise. However, each time the owners of the clinic refuse to take any responsibility for their patients once they have left the premises. This is totally unacceptable!

Our community has worked too hard to revitalize the area and we cannot allow this clinic to disrupt this feat. I strongly object to the continued uncontrolled operation of the Methadone Clinic and I plan to continue this fight until changes are made.

In order to accomplish this goal, I will mobilize the community starting with a petition asking that the Minister of Health and the Premier to stop funding the uncontrolled operation of this clinic. To sign a copy of this petition, you can visit my website at www.cesarpalacio.com/How You Can Help .

By working together, I know that we will make effective changes and preserve our community.